For the period 1996-2006, global distributions of tropospheric nitrogen dioxide (NO2) have been derived from radiances measured with the satellite instruments GOME (Global Ozone Monitoring Experiment) and SCIAMACHY (SCanning Imaging Absorption spectroMeter for Atmospheric CartograpHY). A statistical analysis is applied to derive trends and seasonal variability for this period on a global scale. The time series of the monthly NO2 columns for these ten years have been fitted with a linear function superposed on an annual seasonal cycle on a grid with a spatial resolution of 1° by 1°. We see significant reductions (up to 7% per year) in NO2 in Europe and parts of the eastern United States, and a strong increase in Asia, most particularly in China (up to 29% per year) but also in Iran and Russia. By comparing the data with the cloud information derived from the same satellite observations, the contribution of lightning to the total column of NO2 is estimated. The estimated NO2 from lightning is, especially in the tropics, in good agreement with lightning flash rate observations from space. The satellite observed seasonal variability of NO2 generally correlates well with independent observations and estimates of the seasonal cycle of specific NOx sources. Source categories considered are anthropogenic (fossil fuel and biofuel), biomass burning, soil emissions and lightning. Using the characteristics of the seasonal variability of these source categories, the dominant source of NOx emissions has been identified on a global scale and on a 1° by 1° grid.